UNBC Takes First Step Towards Teacher Education

December 8, 2000 For Immediate Release

The University of Northern British Columbia Senate has approved a new bachelor's degree program in teacher education. The program must still be approved by the British Columbia College of Teachers, the Provincial Government, and the UNBC Board of Governors. It's expected the program will accept its first students in the Fall of 2002.

UNBC's proposed teacher education program will offer training for students interested in teaching at the early (K-5), middle (6-8), and senior years (9-12). The program will be open to students who have already completed a bachelor's degree in an academic area that is commonly taught in British Columbia schools. The proposed degree also features an emphasis on teaching in small and First Nations communities and 20 weeks of practical classroom experience. It is also proposed that the degree will be offered at two of UNBC's regional locations.

The degree will be important in meeting an expected shortage of school teachers in northern British Columbia.

"A report conducted just last year by the Ministry of Education projects that the teacher shortage will be acute by 2005 - about the time that we expect our first students will be graduating," says Paul Madak, UNBC Chair of Education. "We've seen how a shortage of skilled professionals can affect our health system and we want to make sure we have a program in place ready to meet the future demand for school teachers in the North. Some northern school districts are already having difficulty finding teachers for mathematics, physics, and chemistry."

"The implementation of a teacher education degree will be further fulfillment of UNBC's mission to provide socially relevant programs to train northern professionals," says Robin Fisher, Dean of Arts, Social and Health Sciences.

The proposed BEd will provide opportunities for students to become teachers. Since 1994, UNBC has offered a master's degree program in Education, providing additional training for current teachers and others in counselling and instruction.

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